Wearing a Bellingham uniform, Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his first professional baseball home run. The team, the Bellingham Bells, play in the city of the same name as a part of the West Coast League, “…one of the premier collegiate summer baseball leagues in the country.”. Clubs compete throughout the Pacific Northwest’s version of paradise: Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. But the league was not always collegiate. From 1973 through 1976 the Bellingham club was an affiliate for the L.A. Dodgers, and from 1977 through 1994 was the minor league home of the Seattle Mariners. It was even a San Francisco Giants affiliate in ‘95 and ‘96.
The Bells are described as a “…very consistent team.” In fact, they were the League Champs in 2014. This season they gave up “…the fewest hits, runs and earned runs.” All the while with an energetic and enthusiastic bench. Nine Bellingham Bells teammates were named this year to the 2015 All-West Coast League teams.
The new head coach, Mike Gange ”…has a vast knowledge of the game,” says General Manager Nick Caples. A native of Marysville, Washington Gange was on the the Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Conference Academic Team, helping lead Western Oregon University’s baseball squad to two league titles. In 2013 he was an associate scout with the Baltimore Orioles.
Owner Eddie Poplawski learned of collegiate leagues for the first time when his son Danny, a player on the Georgetown University baseball team, indicated that he wanted to join a summer league. Poplawski looked into it and it took him back to the days of attending games with his grandparents as a kid. The team came up for sale in 2010 and the timing was perfect. He made the decision to purchase the Bells and their ballpark not only because of his love for the game, but also because of the community involvement and for providing an opportunity for young athletes to develop. The players themselves have a “…dream that doesn’t die easily…” bringing them closer to the majors or enabling them to put off the end of the “chase” for as long as possible.
The ball players are from all over the country and their efforts are supported immensely by local families who open their doors to them free of charge. Former Bells team member Gabe Cramer said, “When I arrived at the house, the kids immediately bombarded me with questions, tasks, and an extended period of show-and-tell. There was no time for any awkwardness.” Host families “…stay involved throughout the season by coming to home games for free, getting great discounts on Bells gear, being invited to special events and more.”
Besides Griffey, some of the Bellingham Bells’ alumni include catcher and slugger Edgar Martinez, also of the Mariners, two-time All-Star pitcher Derek Lowe, National League Cy Young Award-Winner Rick Sutcliffe, Jake Locker, quarterback for the University of Washington Huskies before a four-year stint with the Tennessee Titans, and Jeff Francis who ended his 10-year pitching career with the New York Yankees.
Last but not least, the Bellingham Bells use Diamond Ticketing Systems’ ImagiTix as an affordable and simple solution to their box office and POS requirements. Their package also comes with an online ticketing engine. Fans seamlessly “stay” on the Bells’ website when ordering their tickets.
Diamond Ticketing is pleased to support those players, teams, fans and front office personnel who live passionately for college and minor league baseball.